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Oldest Native American WWII veteran dies at age 111

At 111, Julia Kabance was the oldest known Native American World War II veteran.
At 111, Julia Kabance was the oldest known Native American World War II veteran.(wibw)
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 7:38 PM EST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The oldest Native American WWII veteran and oldest member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation has passed away.

The Tribe says Julia Kabance, 111, died Tuesday. She had been living at Good Samaritan Valley Vista in Wamego. Kabance also was believed to be the oldest American female WWII veteran at the time of her death.

Kabance enlisted in the Army in 1942 at age 33. Standing five-feet and one-half inch tall, she barely met the Army height and weight requirements of five-feet, 100 lbs. She performed clerical work for more than two years at McChord Air Force Base in Washington state as the war raged on overseas. She later spent 17 years volunteering at the VA in Topeka.

In Facebook post remembering Kabance, the tribe said she was born on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation in August 1910, the 11th of 12 children. She pursued her education at what was then Haskell Institute (now Haskell Indian Nations University) and later attended the University of Kansas, before enlisting in the service.

13 NEWS visited with Kabance several times over the years. On her 110th birthday in 2020, dozens of motorcycles drove by her nursing home to offer a special salute. Kabance joked about her age and, when asked what was next replied, “They say just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.”

Kabance never married. In an interview celebrating her 108th birthday, she told 13 NEWS, “I never met the right one. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone I can’t love.”

Instead, Kabance volunteered for the Catholic Church and built a life in civil service. She also was a life-member of the American Legion We-Ta-Se Post 410.

According to the Tribe, a viewing and Rosary will be held 5:20 p.m. Friday, with burial service 9 a.m. Saturday at the Assumption Chapel, 200 E. Mission St, Saint Marys, KS.

Piper Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

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